The slave, the spiritual and the assertion of ‘blackness’

Burrell, Andrew J. (2008) The slave, the spiritual and the assertion of ‘blackness’. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The Slave, the Spiritual and the Assertion of ‘Blackness’ aims to explore the concept of ‘blackness’ and the way this ‘blackness’ influences both the creation and perception of African-American music. The main focus of this dissertation is the spiritual as a product of historical, social and political factors. The argument explores how the amalgamation of African and white cultures, arising from colonialism and the slave trade, significantly affects the perception of the music. This is examined from both the standpoint of black musicians creating a music which asserted their identity, as well as the white perceptions of black music as a reflection of ‘otherness’. Perceptions of black music cannot be divorced form the social and political climate, which is an integral part of this study. Religious influences are also examined in some detail. The study deals with the concept of agency through subversion in music and the appropriation of spirituals to achieve this. I examined theories of ‘dominance’ and ‘otherness’ and researched the spirituals as separate entities, as well as setting them in their wider musical context. I established the socio-political significance of the spirituals as vehicles for communicating strong emotion, ranging from the sorrow, and the need for comfort, of the slaves to the rebellion of their successors, subversively communicated through the delivery of the music. These theories are applied in a close examination of Swing Low and Sweet Chariot in various musical contexts.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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